OK

Bethlehem 105
Photo by Adam Reeder, Bethlehem, West Bank.

OND is a community feature  on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary.  Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing each day near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

OND Editors consist of founder Magnifico, regular editors jlms qkw, maggiejean, wader, Oke, rfall, and JML9999, alumni editors palantir, BentLiberal and ScottyUrb, guest editor annetteboardman, and current editor-in-chief Neon Vincent.   We invited our readers to comment & share other news.  

Tonight's theme seems to be a culture of violence, in the USA, expressed in both foreign policy and domestic policy.  

Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church_1716
Photo by hoyasmeg - James Emery, May 6, 2007 in Bethlehem, West Bank, PS.
I was privileged and honored to worship in this church Christmas Eve 1998.  I was living in Rehovot, saw a sign for the trip on the door of the German Lutheran Church in Jerusalem, and showed up for the bus.  We passed through checkpoints.  

The service itself was very lovely - spoken words in three languages, hymns sung to one tune by each in our own language.  Suha Arafat came in late, with her then-toddler.  And her security. Bethlehem is not snowy, I think there are palm trees, and it is downhill from Jerusalem. Jerusalem is chilly in December. Rehovot is warm and sunny and there are feral citrus trees.  

CONFLICT

Global Research; Jason Ditz
US Lost More Troops to Suicide Than Combat in 2012

In 2011 the US military lost 165 soldiers to suicide, a record that narrowly beat the 2009 level of 160. This year things have gotten much, much worse, and up to the end of November the suicide deaths are up to 303.

Putting this in perspective, that’s actually quite a bit more than the number of US troops slain in combat so far in 2012. That figure is 212, though the overall US death toll in Afghanistan is 307, including non-combat deaths.

There will only be more details about this situation at year-end.  Yet, hopefully, we & the military will learn how to prevent suicides.  If Congress lets us.  

Dawn.com; AFP, reported elsewhere also.
More than 60 dead in air strike on Syria bakery

More than 60 civilians were killed on Sunday in a strike by Syrian regime warplanes on people queueing outside a bakery in the rebel-held town of Halfaya in the central province of Hama, a watchdog said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which had earlier reported “dozens” killed, said the death toll could rise as at least 50 people had also been critically wounded.

The LCC said dozens of people had been queueing outside the bakery after not having had any bread for several days.

AROUND THE WORLD

The Observer; Harriett Sherwood
Bethlehem Christians feel the squeeze as Israeli settlements spread

In the birthplace of Jesus, the impact of Israeli settlements and their growth has been devastating. In a Christmas message, the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said Bethlehem was enduring a "choking reality".

He added: "For the first time in 2,000 years of Christianity in our homeland, the Holy Cities of Bethlehem and Jerusalem have been completely separated by Israeli settlements, racist walls and checkpoints."

Bethlehem is now surrounded by 22 settlements, including Nokdim, where the hardline former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman lives, and Neve Daniel, home to public diplomacy minister Yuli Edelstein.

Also, Bethlehem has a female Mayor.

New York Books Blog; Helen Epstein
The Wrong Way to Fight Polio

The Gates Foundation, Rotary Club, and the UN should be working closely with local leaders in Pakistan to improve the entire health system so that fewer children suffer from all diseases, including polio. For example, they could support a program to ensure clinics are adequately staffed and stocked with medicine and that parents are taught how to recognize and act on dangerous symptoms quickly—like fever, relentless coughing and diarrhea. Left untreated, these medical problems can kill a child in a day or so, and if parents delay seeking healthcare because they don’t have the money, or they think their child’s illness is caused by evil spirits, or because there’s no health worker or medicine at the clinic, it’ll be too late. Addressing these problems would help give local people and health workers alike more control over their own well-being, as well as a sense that they are engaged in defining and solving their own problems, rather than relying on the largesse of institutions and states they are (sometimes with good reason) suspicious of. Such an approach could also do much to improve relations between the people of Pakistan and the West.

A program in Northern Ghana run by the Ghana Health Service with technical assistance from Columbia University and funding from The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation does exactly this. Obviously, the political circumstances are much simpler, but it could nonetheless become a model for programs anywhere. Nurses based in clinics built by local volunteers regularly visit every family with a pregnant woman or small child and offer whatever medical help is needed. Child mortality in this area is now 4 percent—the lowest in the country —even though this is Ghana’s poorest, most remote area. Because polio vaccination is part of Ghana’s general health program, there is no polio. The nurses cost an additional $1.92 per person per year, on top of what the government already spends on health. By contrast, the polio eradication campaign costs about $2 billion per year, slightly more on a per child basis, though it addresses only this one disease.

Even in Ghana, problems do arise, such as petty corruption, power struggles and simmering political rivalries, but local people tend to work them out themselves, for the benefit of their own children. There will be no Nobel Prizes for this type of work because the heroism is widely shared, but every so often, the entire community—chiefs, politicians, civil servants, villagers—gathers to sing and dance in celebration of the nurses, who are seen as champions, not adversaries.

The Age; Bridie Smith
French Island a possible ark for endangered bandicoot
FOR the first time in almost 60 years, Victorian authorities are attempting an island rescue of an endangered species.

Considered extinct in the wild since 1991, the rabbit-sized eastern barred bandicoot has been introduced to French Island - 80 kilometres south-east of Melbourne in Western Port Bay.

The release of 18 animals in July began an ambitious 12-month trial to establish if the grasslands of French Island would provide suitable habitat. Chief among the island's appeal is that it is fox-free.

Early results from the trial, released to Fairfax Media, indicate mixed success. While the animals maintained body weight and the island's large feral cat population accounted for just two of the nine deaths, the results threw up an unforeseen problem: a parasitic disease known as toxoplasmosis, which is spread by cats.

Sydney Morning Herald; Ben Doherty and Sarah Whyte
Hoax call nurse was depressed: friends
JACINTHA Saldanha, the British-Indian nurse who was found dead in her lodgings after answering an Australian hoax phone call about the Duchess of Cambridge, had reportedly tried to kill herself twice before, and was suffering depression.

Ms Saldanha was the nurse on duty at London's King Edward VII Hospital who took a prank phone call from 2DayFM DJs Michael Christian and Mel Greig, pretending to be the Queen and Prince Charles inquiring about the duchess, Kate Middleton, hospitalised with acute morning sickness.

Ms Saldanha did not reveal any information about the duchess's condition, but transferred the call to her room where another nurse did.

The Indian-born nurse was found in her living quarters three days later. Suicide notes, allegedly written by the 46-year-old, said she felt ashamed of her role in the call, blamed the DJs for her death, and criticised hospital staff.

Followup to previous story.

Hindustan Times; Correspondents
Capital's punishment: Anger spills over

Hundreds of injured anti-rape protesters and police personnel, roads carpeted with shards of glass, spent tear gas shells, damaged vehicles and lots of anger — India Gate was more a war zone than a war memorial on Sunday, forcing the Prime Minister to call for calm.
.....
Angry protesters damaged more than two dozen government vehicles and pelted the policemen with stones, leaving one constable critically injured.

But largely, protesters remained peaceful and blamed 'unruly elements' and the police for the violence.

In the evening, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit met union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and decided on various measures such as increased patrolling, downsizing of VIP security and fast-track courts.

There are reports about a journalist being killed; also this paper has a link to the woman's health right now.  

Hürriyet Daily News; Barçın Yinanç
Turkey’s artifacts move panics West museums

Turkey remains committed to repatriating all the artifacts that have been stolen from its soil over the years, Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay has said while expressing hopes that regional neighbors will also receive back their ancient treasures.

“Western museums are very concerned about the establishment of a joint policy in Eastern Europe and the Middle East,” he recently told the Daily News. “I see that museums in Europe are in panic. People with self-confidence don’t react like that.”

What did Ertuğrul Günay do differently from his predecessors to effect the return of so many stolen archaeological artifacts?

We acted resolutely. We pursued each case with persistence. We also became conscious of the cards in our hands and started to use them. We became aware of the importance of the means in our hands.

I think a complete lack of cultural exchange would be sad.  

The Guardian; Kathleen E McLaughlin
Counterfeit medicine from Asia threatens lives in Africa

nternational health experts are warning of a mounting health crisis in parts of Africa because of an influx of counterfeit medicine from Asia that is playing havoc with the treatment of diseases such as malaria. Porous borders in Africa coupled with indifferent oversight in China are combining to turn the continent and its pressing health problems into a free-for-all for maverick manufacturers, some of whom are producing pills with no active ingredients at all.

Precise data is hard to track down because of the informal nature of African health systems. But several recent studies warn that as many as one-third of malaria drugs in Uganda and Tanzania are fake or substandard, with most believed to originate in China or India.

Apart from the lives lost, there are additional concerns about drug resistance building in east Africa, experts say. "It's a crisis any time someone dies," Nick White, who chairs the Wellcome Trust's south-east Asia major overseas programmes and the WorldWide Antimalarial Resistance Network (Wwarn). "It's a massive problem that people have simply ignored. It's not like a boil that's beginning to burst because it's been a problem for a long time. What has happened is we are beginning to recognise it more."

This really tests my desire to be a pacifist.  

Mail & Guardian; Richard Poplak, Kevin Bloom
Feeding frenzy in South Sudan

We wake early, for a televised election. The Afex River Camp, situated on the banks of the White Nile, passes for luxury in the world's newest capital. Fist-sized insects thwack against our $125-per-night containers, where we lay like refrigerated produce. We disengage our phone alarms and stumble into the bilious light of a parking lot. In the shadows on the far side, CNN blares.

It is a Wednesday in November, the halfway mark of one of those weeks that creak beneath the weight of historical significance. As we enter the kitchenette belonging to the International Republican Institute, the Grand Old Party's pet non-governmental organisation, vote counting is already underway for the contest between President Barack Obama and his challenger, Mitt Romney. A day later, China's 18th Party Congress will begin the process of installing Xi Jinping as its new leader, determining the course of the world's second largest economy for the coming decade. In Juba, principal city of a recently independent South Sudan, these events seem both portentous and menacing. In Juba, geopolitical alliances shift with the inclement weather.

"South Africans!" says Billy, brightly, when we enter the boardroom. "My drinking buddies from Iraq were South Africans!" Billy is one of the Republican faithful, an army reservist and psychological operations specialist whose halcyon days were spent in Mosul. "A free-fire zone, man!" he says of the place. "No cameras, no media. Just us and the bad guys."

Why are there rebels already in South Sudan? They're a brand new country.  Are the rebels allied with the Khartoum government?  

Der Spiegel; Joel Stonington
'Coal-aholics' Poland Wages War on Efforts to Save the Climate

Poland is addicted to coal. That is the message the country has been sending both domestically and internationally as Warsaw prepares to host the global climate summit next year. In Europe, the Poles are isolated in their fight for looser emissions reduction goals and against fixes to the EU's cap-and-trade system.
Info

It is not everyday that a small legal practice receives a visit from a domestic security agency. So Tomasz Wlodarski, the director of Environmental Law Service Poland, said he was surprised when Poland's equivalent of the FBI paid him a visit in the fall. Even stranger, the officers asked for nothing that hadn't been previously published about the organization.

"Harassment is a big word," said Wodarski, "But these are actions that may cause people to feel pressure."

His organization was not the only one to have been called on. And government officials have done their part via the press. In October, Poland's Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budzanowski criticized an anti-coal environmental organization by telling a local newspaper that the NGO "should accept that there are limits to its activities," and that "they have exceeded their limit." Those statements caused about two dozen NGOs to write a scathing letter to Prime Minister Donald Tusk regarding what they called an "unprecedented attack" on Polish society, according to the European news website EurActiv.

IN THE USA

ProPublica;  Olga Pierce, Justin Elliott and Theodoric Meyer
How Dark Money Helped Republicans Hold the House and Hurt Voters

Documents show that national Republican operatives, funded by dark money groups, drew the crucial lines which packed as many Democrats as possible into three congressional districts. The result: the state's congressional delegation flipped from 7-6 Democratic to 9-4 in favor of Republicans. The combination of party operatives, cash and secrecy also existed in other states, including Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan.

Redistricting is supposed to protect the fundamental principle of one-person-one-vote. As demographics change, lines are shifted to make sure everyone is equally represented and to give communities a voice. In order for Republicans to win in North Carolina, they undermined the votes of Democrats, especially African-Americans. (Party leaders in North Carolina say they were simply complying with federal voting laws.)

The strategy began in the run-up to the 2010 elections. Republicans poured money into local races in North Carolina and elsewhere. It was an efficient approach. While congressional races routinely cost millions, a few thousand dollars can swing a campaign for a seat in the state legislature

The Republican effort to influence redistricting overall was spearheaded by a group called the Republican State Leadership Committee, which has existed since 2002. For most of that time, it was primarily a vehicle for donors like health care and tobacco companies to influence state legislatures, key battlegrounds for regulations that affect corporate America. Its focus changed in 2010 when Ed Gillespie, former counselor to President George W. Bush, was named chairman. His main project: redistricting.

Utah's process is no less seamy, imho. The legislature split Salt Lake City into 3 pieces, and gave the "urban" district to Jason Chaffetz.  

Truthout.org; Mark Ames, who wrote a book on this topic.
From "Operation Wetback" to Newtown: Tracing the Hick Fascism of the NRA

The cult strategy worked: Membership soared into the millions, and the NRA’s budget swelled to one of the largest budgets in DC outside of the federal government.

But the downside to starting a fanatical cult is the risk that you’ll be denounced by your own fanatics — which is exactly what happened to Carter, who was soon denounced as a sellout for suggesting that being respectable had its merits too. Next thing Harlon Carter knew, he was forced into early retirement, and the real Harlon Carter was replaced by a mythologized Harlon Carter for the fanatics to worship, a Harlon Carter who never wavered.

The formula is simple: The more batshit malevolent the gun cult gets, the more power they exert. Just ignore the periodic squeals from the rest of the country, and keep pushing the batshit envelope.

Nothing proved this awesome power of gun cult batshittery more than the controversy in the mid-90s, when ex-President George H. W. Bush resigned from the NRA and published a letterattacking the group, in language that you can tell wants to be scathing, and would’ve scathed if Bush had allowed an editor to do a once-over, yet still manages to scathe if only because it captures a normally-careful politician in moment of genuine emotional outrage:

Bookshelf Booksellers; Bruce Dadey
The Inconvenient Indian  Book Review
Thomas King, an author, broadcaster, professor, actor, director, and Massey Lecturer who is justifiably known for his humour and wit, is no doubt familiar with this law of human nature. But, when he doesn’t make himself the butt of his own jokes, as he so often does in CBC's Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour, he tends to work the formula from a different angle, and it goes something like this:

comedy – distance = tragedy

That is, comedy and wit can induce us to move closer to issues we might not otherwise want to look at, and in his latest book, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, King plays a sly, ironic, and sometimes biting Virgil to the reader’s Dante as he conducts us on a tour of how Native people have been depicted in history, film, literature, and the media. As reviews in the Star and the Globe have pointed out, there’s much to admire in King’s book: It covers a broad swath of history from Columbus to Caledonia in an engaging way that gives the reader an authoritative overview of issues and events. It incisively dissects historical efforts to erase Native people through war or education and illuminates present attempts to erase them through law or policy. It displays impressive rhetorical acumen as King argues for and against various positions on the past and present status of Aboriginal people.

PAUSING IN UTAH

Salt Lake Tribune;  Kirsten Stewart (no, Trix & Rimjob, not her)
Utah defends its hands-off health insurance exchange plan

It’s the details that worry consumer advocates, who are pushing for greater clarity on Utah’s plan and fear Herbert’s vision for Avenue H falls woefully short.

Of top concern, they say, is Utah’s poor track record in linking eligible Utahns with health safety nets.

The state ranked 50th in enrolling eligible children in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 2010, said Nehring, noting that 80 percent of the state’s 102,400 children are eligible for these programs.

"Utah families are in particular need," he said, "of the ACA’s vision of an exchange that will connect [them] with all their health coverage options."

Under the ACA, those shopping on an exchange must first be screened to see if they’re entitled to Medicaid or CHIP. They are also screened for federal tax credits to apply toward the purchase of their coverage.

St. George Spectrum; Casie Forbes
Man protests suspension of gun sales
“We have a president holding office right now that is complicit in walking illegal guns into the Mexican state, and we understand people have been killed down there by the hundreds, if not thousands,” Sutton said. “Now he wants to have a debate on this subject while he invokes executive privilege, and he doesn’t want to talk about his own trespasses. These politicians need to be held accountable.”

Sutton said he disagreed with the sporting goods store “siding” with the president. The assault rifle, to Sutton, is a “home defense weapon.”

“I would be willing to give up the right to own these types of weapons, but every day the government demonstrates we need them more than ever,” Sutton said. “We cannot defend our homes, our families and our loved ones with a pocket full of rocks. This is where the extreme left would move us if they could; it’s an old agenda.”

The MSRs are the “most effective” and “efficient” firearms for people to protect themselves, Sutton said.

I give the paper and reporter credit for interviewing this man.  Good to know someone is listening to Jason Chaffetz and Fox News.  

Moab Times-Independent; Steve Kadel
Red Rock Lodge offers proposal for emergency shelter for Moab’s homeless

An emergency overnight shelter for Moab’s homeless population has been found for this winter.

Those needing relief from severe cold temperatures could be housed at the Red Rock Lodge under an agreement proposed last week between lodge general manager Jeramy Day and a subcommittee of the Homeless Coordinating Committee.

“That’s something we could do tomorrow,” Day said. “It’s definitely doable on our part until about the second week in March.”

Some details still must be worked out before the proposal could become a reality, and the idea would need approval from the full Homeless Coordinating Committee. But subcommittee members are moving forward with plans to set up training for volunteers willing to help, said committee member Audrey Graham.

Day said the lodge at 51 N. 100 West has room for 16 to 20 people per night when the temperature plunges. They can be housed in rooms big enough for four to five people at $25 per room per night.

This really gets into the all politics is local frame.  

Salt Lake Tribune; Brian Maffly
Student, faculty dissent a new challenge for Dixie, community

After Dixie State College officials removed a statue of Confederate soldiers on Dec. 6, senior Greg Noel told KSL-TV that the school must address the school’s apparent history of racial insensitivity or the controversy "will foster more issues and more situations and more conflict until it just bursts."

An African-American senior from Las Vegas who serves as a peer adviser and as student vice president for clubs, Noel believed he was exercising his right to free expression. But he later learned his televised remarks prompted administrators to investigate whether he had violated school policies.

The incident reflects the pressure some campus sources say Dixie’s dean of students, Del Beatty, is putting on elected student leaders, such as Noel and president Brody Mikesell, to tone down their advocacy for retiring their school’s century-old Dixie name.

Administrators, however, deny they are pressuring students. Vice president for student services Frank Lojko, who oversees Beatty, denied administrators probed Noel’s KSL remarks. But a Dixie staffer, who asked to not be named for fear of retaliation, confirmed the scrutiny of Noel’s interview.

Followup on previous story.  

OTHER
Action Item:
Don Siegelman Petition & Donations
Public Space in San Francisco aka The City
Twisted Cookies With Rolled-In Sugar h/t kos-friend donnamarie
Your WTF Headline: Family brings Irish tacos to Utah County
Because my kids were discussing this, and Snopes was inconclusive

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